Tag Archives: soup

Curried Vegetable & Lentil Soup

A big thank you to everyone that’s been entering my giveaways! I love hosting giveaways on my blog so make sure you keep those entries coming… the more popular the giveaways are, the more likely it is that companies will offer me more great stuff to give away in the future 🙂

I’d like to take this opportunity to congratulate the lucky winners of two recent giveaways…

Simona, winner of Joni Marie Newman & Celine Steen’s Home-Cooked Vegan Comfort Food

and

Susie W, winner of Chris & Carolyn Caldicott’s World Food Cafe Quick and Easy

The giveaway for Kathy Hester’s Vegan Slow Cooking For Two -or- Just for You is open until 31st October, so there’s still plenty of time to enter. This is the book that encouraged me to buy a slow cooker and I’m so pleased that I took the plunge! I’ve used it loads already for cooking main meals, large batches of beans, scrumptious rice puddings (a childhood favourite of mine!) and, of course, Kathy’s amazing Pumpkin Coconut Caramel Sauce.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading all your comments under the giveaway entries. I love the sound of so many of the foods that you’ve tried during your travels. We should definitely try and re-create them! I’ve also loved reading all about your favourite comfort foods. Curry and soups were popular responses, and I’m with you on those!

Now that the weather’s taken a turn for the worse here in the UK, I can feel the shift towards ‘comfort food’ mode in my cooking, and curries and soups are making weekly appearances on our table in one form or another. One of my current favourite dishes is a lightly curried vegetable and lentil soup. I think I’ve made this soup three times in as many weeks! We’ve been enjoying it at weekends, either for Saturday lunch or Sunday supper. I’ve been having the spare portions for lunch during the week, while Lil’ L’s been taking a flask of soup with him to school 🙂

Lightly Curred Vegetable and Lentil Soup 2 - 500 copy

As well as tasting yummy, this soup is packed to the brim with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. The addition of lentils also gives the soup a great iron and protein boost.

It’s a very filling soup, so it can easily be served as a main meal, alongside some chunky pieces of wholegrain bread or warm garlic bread.

Here’s how we make it:

 

Lightly Curred Vegetable and Lentil Soup 1 - 500 copy

This recipe has been shared at Ricki Heller’s Wellness Weekend.

Over the past couple of years, I’ve posted a number of family-favourite soup recipes. Now that we’re in ‘soup season’ I thought I’d collate the recipes to make them easier to find. I’ve added a dedicated ‘Soups‘ page to the blog, which can be accessed via the Recipes page.

Next on my ‘to try’ list is a slow-cooked minestrone soup. I’ve seen some really cute wholegrain mini pasta stars in my local health food store that I’m dying to try out 🙂 Have you been making any soups lately? What’s your all-time favourite soup?

 

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Filed under Lunches & Light Dinners, Soups

Nettle Soup with Ginger and Miso

Well, I haven’t had any success growing vegetables in my garden yet, but I have an abundance of nettles that are happily growing there 😉

Nettles

What many people don’t realise is that nettles are actually a ‘super food’, packed to the brim with nutrients.

“High in potassium, iron, sulphur, vitamin C, vitamin A and B complex vitamins nettles provide a high amount of dense nutrition with very little calories. The sulphur makes them great for the hair, skin, and nails. In addition, the tiny hairs, besides emitting histamine, also release serotonin and acetylcholine, two neurotransmitters that help to suppress appetite and also settle mood. Finally, nettles have gentle diuretic properties, which help relieve water weight gain, flush the body of toxins, and purify the blood”. [Source

 

Obviously you can’t eat nettles raw (unless you want to sting your mouth to pieces) but, by simply drenching them in boiling hot water, their sting is instantly removed and then they can be eaten just like other greens.

Nettle Leaf

One of our favourite ways to eat nettles is blended into a soup, flavoured with onion, garlic, ginger and miso.  We also like to include a large sweet potato in the soup, which adds a touch of sweetness as well as giving the soup a beautiful, silky smooth texture.

Just in case you haven’t come across miso before, it’s a Japanese soybean paste that has this wonderful, rich savory flavour that makes it perfect for soups, sauces and gravies.  I’m currently using the Clearspring Japanese Organic Brown Rice Miso, which is available in the UK in Waitrose and Sainsbury supermarkets, as well as in health food stores. While the jar recommends that you store it in a cool, dark place, I keep my jar in the fridge and it’s lasted months!

Clearspring Brown Rice Miso

If you’ve never picked nettles before, here are a few tips:

  • Make sure you’re wearing gloves, a long sleeve top and trousers (long pants).
  • Use a pair of sharp scissors to snip off the top leaves from each stalk (about four leaves per stalk).  Before snipping, check the leaf to make sure there are no creatures or caterpillar eggs on it.
  • Place the leaves in a colander and thoroughly wash them under running water (remember to keep your gloves on).
  • If you’re using the nettles in a soup, there’s no need to soak them in boiling water first.  Simply chop them up (still wearing your gloves) and add them to the pan.

Nettle Leaves

If you’re not fortunate enough to have a patch of free nettles growing in your vicinity, you can replace them with another green, such as kale or chard.  It’ll taste just as nice 😉

Nettle Soup with Ginger & Miso

While it’s not the prettiest soup in the world, it tastes delicious!  Lil’ L can vouch for this.  It’s his current favourite soup, and he loves taking a flask to school for his lunch once a week.  In fact, last week, he asked if he could have it for his lunch two days on the trot.  I really hope other children enjoy it as much as he does!

Here’s the recipe:

Nettle Soup with Ginger & Miso

In addition to the nettles, we’ve had great success growing dandelions this year.  Dandelion pesto will be on the menu next week 😉

Have a wonderful weekend everyone! xx

Are there any ‘weeds’ that you enjoy eating?  If you have any family recipes, please do share below 🙂

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Filed under Lunches & Light Dinners, The Garden

#WIAW Going Green: Watercress and Leek Soup & I ♥ Edamame Beans

Last Wednesday I was all set to publish a post on my current favourite lunches, including this beautiful Sweet Beet Soup

Sweet Beet Soup

and this yummy wrap…

Seeded wholegrain tortilla with caramelised onion hummus, grated carrot, grated red cabbage, chopped raw beet root, sweet pickle, sunflower & hemp seeds

Seeded wholegrain tortilla with caramelised onion hummus, grated carrot, grated red cabbage, chopped raw beet root, sweet pickle, sunflower & hemp seeds

 

… when I discovered that the theme for this month’s WIAW parties is ‘Going Green’!  My choice of food colour was all wrong! :/

But no worries, I’m back this week with a recipe for a dish that’s very green indeed… Leek and Watercress Soup.  I’ve mentioned this soup a couple of times on the blog already as it’s one of Lil’ L’s all-time favourite soups.  He’s been eating it since he was a toddler!  A couple of my readers have requested the recipe and I do apologise for how long it’s taken me to get round to posting it.  I’ve got a serious backlog of recipes to post this year, but I’m slowly getting there!

Watercress & Leek Soup - 500 copy

For those of you that may be concerned that watercress is too peppery for kids, rest assured that when cooked in this soup, the pepperiness of the watercress becomes very subtle indeed.  The addition of potatoes contributes to the soup’s mild flavour, as well as giving it a lovely, creamy texture, without the need for milk or cream.

Here’s how I make it…

And finally, before I go, I would just like to show you one of my latest green food obsessions…  Edamame (Soya) Beans!

edamame-beans-look-younger-14062011

[Source]

I can’t believe that I only discovered these beans last month! How on earth did it take me so long? My friend ordered them as a starter when we met for lunch in London and I proceeded to devour the whole bowl!

Back home in Bath, I’ve discovered that Waitrose sell fresh edamame beans on their sushi bar, and in bags in the frozen vegetable section.  I much prefer the unshelled beans.  There’s something really satisfying about popping them out.  Lil’ L loves them too, so I’ve been adding them to his lunch box as a ‘treat’ 😉

As well as being packed with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, soya beans are also a great source of protein.  If you’re interested in reading more about their health benefits, the Vegetarian and Vegan Foundation have produced an informative 60 page booklet that’s available to download for free.

The Soya Story

I love the fact that even at my old age 😉  I’m still discovering new foods.

Are there any foods that you’ve recently discovered that you love?

 

 

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Filed under Healthy Snacking, Lunches & Light Dinners, Soups

Sweet Beet “Love” Soup

With its sweet, earthy flavour and deep purple colour, I have always been strongly attracted to beets.  In my childhood, my favourite salad ingredient was my Dad’s home grown beetroot, freshly pulled from the garden.

beetroot-uprooted copy

 [Source]

But little did I know as a child how good they were for my health.  I only recently discovered that beets are actually a super food.  Well I never!  Here’s what I’ve learned…

1. Beets are packed with vitamins and minerals
They contain a huge array of nutrients, including potassium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamins A, B & C, beta-carotene, beta-cyanine and folic acid.

2. Beets are rich in antioxidants which help to protect against disease
Beets are a very good source of antioxidants vitamin C and manganese.  They also contain a powerful group of antioxidants called betalains, which can help in the prevention of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and inflammation. (It’s the betalains that give beets their deep red colour).  The nitrates contained in beets can also help to lower blood pressure.

3. Beets cleanse the body
Beets are a great detoxifier, tonic for the liver and blood purifier.

4. Beets help your mental health
Beets, like chocolate, contain trytophan, a substance which is known to relax the mind and create a sense of well-being.  The betalains contained in beets have also been used in certain treatments of depression.

5. Beets boost our brain power
Beetroot contains high concentrations of nitrates, which are converted in the body into nitric oxide.  This helps open blood vessels in the body, increasing blood flow and oxygen.  Nitrites also increase blood flow to the brain, which may help to prevent dementia.

6. Beets are energy boosters
Beets are a great source of complex carbs and slow-release energy.  The natural nitrates found in beets also help to increase our oxygen intake and energy levels.

7. Beets enhance our physical performance
Studies have shown that the nitrates in beets can enhance physical endurance.  In one study, cyclists who drank 500 ml of beetroot juice were able to ride up to 20% longer.

8. Beets are great for weight management
Beets are high in complex carbs and fibre, but low in calories, which makes them the perfect food for weight management.

And finally, did you know that…

9. Beets are Nature’s Viagra!
The Romans used beets medicinally as an aphrodisiac, and science has proven that beets are indeed a natural Viagra.  Their nitrate content increases blood flow in all areas of the body.  Beets also contain high amounts of boron, which is directly related to the production of human sex hormones.

If you wish to know more, there’s a clip of Dr Oz talking about the health benefits of beets (including number 9!) here.

Getting in the Mood for Love with …

Sweet Beet Soup!

With its deep red colour and wonderful mood enhancing properties, I reckon beetroot would make a wonderful addition to any romantic meal that you might have planned for your loved ones this evening 😉

On tonight’s menu for us, is a starter of Sweet Beet Soup.  Until recently, I’d only ever eaten beetroot in salad but, inspired by Candy’s beautiful blog post called ‘Simple Pleasures’ I was inspired to try my hand at making a beet soup.

Candy kindly allowed me to share her beet soup photo. Isn’t it stunning?

Sweet Beet 'Love' Soup

And perfect for Valentines!

You must check out Candy’s post.  It is such a beautiful read!

For my beet soup, I chose to add sweet potato.  As well as adding sweetness and additional nutrients, I find it gives soups a wonderful, silky texture (without the need to add cream or milk).  Furthermore, with the addition of the potato, I find that a bowl of soup is filling on its own, without the need to add a side dish of bread.

For protein, additional flavour, textures and nutrients, I add a sprinkling of shelled hempseeds, lightly toasted pumpkin seeds and dried dill.

Here’s how I make it…

[This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s #Wellness Weekend]

So I’ve got the starter and dessert sorted for tonight’s meal, just got to decide on the main course now!

Are you a fan of Beets? What’s your favourite way of serving them? 

Have a wonderful Valentine’s Day everyone xx

p.s. It’s the last day to enter my Valentine’s Raw Chocolate Giveaway (ends midnight GMT tonight).  I’ve been overwhelmed by all the beautiful comments I’ve received on this giveaway.  Thank you so much guys! You really have made my week!  Since there have been so many entries, I’ve decided to make another batch of chocolates, and I’ll select 3 winners in total.  I’ll post details of the winners on FB and Twitter tomorrow, and also email directly.
Good luck everyone xx

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Filed under Lunches & Light Dinners, Soups

#WIAW – I’ll Bring the Chickpea & Vegetable Balti (& recipe!)

Upon my return from the school run this morning, I spotted the first signs of new life in our (otherwise dead looking) garden. The snowdrops seem to have appeared overnight!

Snowdrops

And what a joy they are to behold 🙂

For this week’s WIAW party, I’m sharing our eats from Sunday, which included some of our all-time favourite breakfasts, lunches and dinners. I’ve even written up another one-pot recipe to share. I’ve got such a backlog of recipes to write up… but I’m getting there… slowly!

Thanks, as always, to our most gracious host, Jenn over at Peas and Crayons.

Breakfast

As it was Sunday, Lil’ L was very keen to have a ‘special breakfast’. He’d spotted some very ripe bananas sitting in the fruit bowl and suggested we make some banana pancakes. I halved our usual recipe, used two frying pans, and speedily made 6 pancakes, which we shared 🙂

Banana Pancake with nut and choc chip topping - 500

We’ve been playing around with new toppings for pancakes. This week we had pecans, walnuts, dessicated coconut, choc chips and a drizzle of maple syrup. This combo went perfectly with the banana pancakes.  It was very yummy indeed 🙂

Lunch

Ready for when M got back from his Sunday morning marathon mountain bike ride, I made a large pot of watercress, leek and potato soup, which we served with chunks of wholegrain, seeded bread.

Watercress & Leek Soup - 500

You might be surprised to hear that this is one of Lil’ L’s favourite soups. He’s been eating eat since he was about 2. While raw watercress can be quite peppery, when combined with potato and leek in a soup, it takes on a wonderful, mild taste.

For lunch time dessert, we had a slice (or two!) of raw chocolate and lime cashew cream cake. I actually made this cake for M’s birthday back in December but we never got round to eating it!

Raw Chocolate Lime Cashew Cream Cake - 500

This dessert is really good. Lil’ L described it as ‘scrumdiddlyumptious’! I scribbled notes of how I made it on a scrap of paper and as soon as I locate it (!), I’ll write up the recipe and post it.

Dinner

Our Sunday dinner wasn’t particularly traditional… we had a Chickpea and Vegetable Balti served with home-made naans.  Mind you, maybe curry has become the traditional English Sunday dinner. It wouldn’t surprise me. I can happily eat curry any day of the week 🙂

Chickpea & Vegetable Balti

This balti was designed to be mild enough for children, but if no kiddies are going near the balti bowls, feel free to crank up the heat!

Here’s how I made it:

Lil’ L loved this dish so much that he ‘bagsied’ the fourth portion and took it to school the next day for his lunch, rolled in a seeded tortilla wrap!

[This recipe has been submitted to Ricki Heller’s #Wellness Weekend]

Dessert

To boost our calcium, fruit and omega-3 intake, for dessert we had a berry milkshake smoothie. Since Lil’ L doesn’t like the pips from raspberries and blackberries (I’m not that keen either!), I blended the berries and almond milk first, then sieved it before returning it to the blender and adding banana and chia seeds.  It was creamy, refreshing and ‘special’ enough to be considered a ‘real dessert’ by Lil’ L 😉

Berry Milkshake Smoothie

So that’s me done for another WIAW.  It’s time to hook up with all the lovely bloggers over at Jenn’s. Hopefully see you there!

Are you a fan of curry? If so, what’s your favourite type?
I adore Indian kormas and baltis as well as creamy Thai curries.  I’m such a wimp though when it comes to heat. Anything beyond ‘mild’ and I feel like a pressure cooker about to explode!

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Filed under Baking & Desserts, Breakfast & Elevenses, Dinners